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Two Britons, Moroccan fighter in Ukraine sentenced to death by Russian separatist court

The British government said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned” after Russian news agencies reported that pro-Moscow separatists had sentenced to death two British fighters captured by Russian troops while fighting for Ukraine.

“We are obviously deeply concerned about this. We have said all along that prisoners of war should not be exploited for political purposes,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity and they should not be prosecuted for taking part in hostilities. We will therefore continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to try to obtain the release of any British national who served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and who are being held as prisoners of war,” he added.

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Two Britons and a Moroccan have been sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine.

The court found the three men – Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun – guilty of “mercenary activities and actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the DPR”.

The three men were captured while fighting for Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed forces that entered the country on February 24. In court, they admitted they were mercenaries. Their attorney said they would appeal the decision.

UK Foreign Secretary Luz Truss tweeted: “I totally condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner being held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine. They are prisoners of war. It is a fictitious judgment without any legitimacy.

British citizens Aslin and Pinner were captured by Russian-backed forces in Mariupol in April during a bitter struggle for control of the city. Moroccan Saadoun surrendered in March while fighting in a small town between Mariupol and the regional capital of Donetsk.

[with inputs from agencies]

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Post expires at 4:05pm on Sunday June 19th, 2022